Richard Barone is an example to all of us who get trapped in our daily grind. He seems to be the perpetual glass-half-full kind of guy. He admits he feels pretty much the same way he did 30 years ago when Barone on lead vocals and guitar along with bassist Rob Norris and drummer Frank Giannini gave birth to the Bongos, a wonderful, jangly power-pop combo that could light up any room with its overflowing energy. It’s difficult to believe that their new album, Phantom Train (Jem), is not really new at all. With guitarist James Mastro added to the band, it was cut in 1985 and 1986 and has languished on the shelf ever since. Barone has also kindly agreed to serve as guest editor for magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Q&A with him.
Barone: I never really thought about it, and it may be common knowledge to other Beach Boys fans, but based on conversations with founding member Al Jardine, when the group started, their primary influence seems to have been the Kingston Trio. Not just the harmonies, but even down to their matching striped shirts. Eventually, the Beach Boys landed on Capitol, the same record label as the Kingstons. It’s too bad that, once they started delivering surf hit after fun-in-the-sun-surf hit, the folk craze was done and the Trio was dropped from the label. Ironic. But that, my friends, is show biz. I had a great time this summer meeting and recording with Al, who I had been talking with about recording some folk tunes, especially one by Pete Seeger. Then, in June, Al suddenly popped into New York. He called me in the morning and was magically a block away in the Village. “Hey, why don’t we go into in a studio and record “If I Had A Hammer” today?” I proffered. And, after a few short phone calls, we were in a cab with friends Sam Kogon and Larry Dvoskin on the way to the studio, where we recorded the tune in a few takes. It was distributed just a couple days later by Bono’s ONE Protest Song campaign project. You can find out more about ONE Campaign here.